Dried pasta soaks up food coloring remarkably well. The finished "beads" are easy for little hands to string into necklaces.
The Italian names for various shapes of pasta are often fancifully descriptive. Amuse your children by telling them you're having sleeves (manicotti), cords (spaghetti), or pens (penne) for dinner.
For each color, mix about 2 teaspoons of vinegar with 10 to 12 drops of food coloring (we used both regular and neon colors) in a ziplock bag.
Add 1/2 cup of dried pasta (we used ziti and rigatoni) to each bag and shake it to cover the pasta with dye. Leave the pasta in the dye for about 5 minutes, shaking it occasionally.
Next, spoon the pasta out of the bag, placing it on paper towels. After about 15 minutes, turn the pasta pieces over. Let them dry completely.
Tie one pasta piece to the end of a length of yarn to act as a stopper. For a simple needle, fold a twist tie around the other end of the yarn and twist its ends to secure.